Higgs boson: The hunt for the elusive Higgs boson – the so-called God Particle thought to be responsible for giving objects mass – may soon come to an end, as scientists at Fermilab reported that they had glimpsed what look like signs of the particle.
Physicists investigating the make-up of the universe said on Wednesday they were closing in on the long-sought but elusive Higgs boson they believe was key to turning debris from the Big Bang into stars, planets and finally life.
The researchers spoke after the U.S. Fermilab laboratory reported that it had spotted likely signs of the particle. The European CERN research centre saw similar signals late last year.
"The end-game is approaching in the hunt for the Higgs boson," said Jim Siegrist, Associate Director for High Energy Physics at the Department of Energy in Washington, which oversees Fermilab operations.
"It is good to see all the signs lining up," said CERN spokesman James Gillies, while Oliver Buechmueller of the centre's CMS experiment said: "It seems we are getting closer and closer ... this summer is going to be very hot."
But they all insisted it was much too early to claim a formal discovery, which would fill in the last major gap in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics which has underpinned science's view of the cosmos for 40 years.
Existence of the boson, and its linked particle field, was posited in 1964 by Briton Peter Higgs who argued a mechanism must exist that turned matter into mass after the primeval explosion that created the universe 13.7 billion years ago.
The search only began in earnest in the 1980s, first in Fermilab's Tevatron particle collider and later in a similar machine at CERN, but most intensively since 2010 with the start-up of the European centre's Large Hadron Collider (LHC).